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At the Rink: Ducks at Flyers

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare wasn't sure if coming to the NHL was the right decision.

Now, three games into his NHL career, the Philadelphia Flyers have installed him as their second-line center.

With Vincent Lecavalier out at least two weeks with a lower-body injury sustained during the Flyers' 4-3 shootout loss against the Montreal Canadiens, Bellemare, 29, will play between Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

"I plan to skate hard and play simply," Bellemare said. "I know those guys are so skilled offensively that we're going to get the chances. My game is pretty much the same as the first ones, play a strong defensive game and the offense is going to come."

Bellemare averaged 11:31 of ice time in the Flyers' first three games, when he centered the fourth line. However, Berube said he believes Bellemare is ready for the added responsibility that comes with the move up the lineup.

"For me it's his speed," Berube said. "Speed and he thinks the game really well; he thinks the game fast. He's shown me that he can make plays in the middle of the ice."

Bellemare, who spent the past eight seasons playing in Sweden, said the biggest adjustment for him has been in the speed of the transition game in the NHL.

"It's the fact that when you do make a mistake you pay the price pretty quick," he said. "Whenever you lose the puck on the ice, if it's a bad choice than you can tell right away. The other team is going to use that chance and the momentum is going to change. This facet of the game … in Europe if you lost the puck in the middle zone, it's dangerous but not as much as here. The teams are so much better here to use the fact that that player lost the puck at that time, the momentum switches totally. That part of the game has been so much more impressive here."

Bellemare wasn't the only Flyers player in a good mood Tuesday. They've moved beyond their 4-3 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, when they blew a 3-0 third-period lead.

"You've got to learn from it," captain Claude Giroux said. "It's not the first time and it won't be the last time a team gets a three-goal lead and they come back to lose. I think our attitude is good [Tuesday]. We're positive in how we want to play."

The Ducks, after their 5-1 win at the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, also are feeling pretty positive. Tuesday marks the end of their season-opening four-game road trip that started with a loss at the Pittsburgh Penguins but has seen them beat the Detroit Red Wings and the Sabres since then.

"We can turn a pretty good road trip into a great one with a win," forward Devante Smith-Pelly said. "That's our focus."

The Ducks had an optional skate Tuesday morning that saw 15 skaters and two goaltenders get on the ice. One player missing was forward Patrick Maroon, who sustained a lower-body injury Monday on a hit by the Sabres' Josh Gorges. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said he didn't know how long Maroon would be out.

"He's walking pretty gingerly right now," Boudreau said. "I don't see it as a day-to-day thing, but we'll know more when he sees our doctor back home."

Maroon had been playing left wing on the Ducks top line, with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Matt Beleskey finished the game in Maroon's spot, and could start there Tuesday. Boudreau said Rickard Rakell, a healthy scratch Monday, will return to the lineup. Rakell, a natural center, can play the wing. However, Boudreau said he likes to keep younger players in their traditional spots and have the veterans adjust if needed.

"We'll do what we have to do and we'll probably shuffle our lines up a little bit before the game," Boudreau said. "And as the game goes they'll probably get shuffled a little bit again."

Here are the projected lineups:


Matt Beleskey - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Jakob Silfverberg - Ryan Kesler - Devante Smith-Pelly

Andrew Cogliano - Rickard Rakell - William Karlsson

Emerson Etem - Nate Thompson - Tim Jackman

Cam Fowler - Ben Lovejoy

Francois Beauchemin - Hampus Lindholm

Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen

Frederik Andersen

John Gibson

Scratched: Mark Fistric

Injured: Patrick Maroon (lower body), Kyle Palmieri (ankle), Dany Heatley (groin)


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Brayden Schenn - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Wayne Simmonds

R.J. Umberger - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Zac Rinaldo - Blair Jones - Jason Akeson

Nicklas Grossmann - Mark Streit

Andrew MacDonald - Nick Schultz

Michael Del Zotto - Luke Schenn

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: None

Injured: Braydon Coburn (lower body), Vincent Lecavalier (lower body), Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Ryan White (chest)

Status report: The Flyers switched Umberger and Read on the third line, with Read returning to right wing, his natural side, and Umberger, a left-shot, going to left wing. "Read came to me and we talked about it and I said I got no problem with it," Berube said. "He wanted to go back on right wing. It feels like he can see the ice better on his forehand." … Jones will make his Flyers debut. … Berube said Coburn could skate Wednesday. He has been out since the season-opening loss to the Boston Bruins. ... Kesler has five points in three games, but his biggest impact might be on faceoffs. Kesler has won 62.7 percent of his faceoffs, including 16 of 20 Monday against the Sabres. Entering play Tuesday the Ducks lead the League at 56.6 percent on faceoffs; they were 20th (49.2 percent) last season. "If you start with puck it's an awful lot easier to play an offensive game than when you're already defending when the puck is in your zone if you lose all the draws," Boudreau said. "It makes a great difference, especially on power play, penalty kill. You start with possession, it's really important. It's something that we really wanted to shore up a little bit in the summer, and Kesler's numbers so far have been really good."

Who's hot: Perry and Getzlaf have points in all three games, combining for six goals and 10 points. … Simmonds has two straight two-goal games and enters play Tuesday tied for the League lead with four goals.


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